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September 11, 2006

Comments

Dr. Eric

On another Forum the question was about in the Gospel of St. Luke. The assertion was that St. Luke erred by placing a town on one side of the lake when it was on the other. The person who wrote this did not give chapter or verse and didn't name the town.

Does anyone know what that person was talking about? Is there an error or was the person wrong?

SDG

It seems to me that the meaning of this debated clause is plain from the first part of the sentence:

Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation.

It doesn't say "everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation is asserted by the Holy Spirit." Rather, everything asserted by the sacred writers or sacred writers is asserted by the Holy Spirit.

This seems to me to necessitate some form of unrestricted inerrancy. Granted, we must give full weight to the term "assert." The text does not teach that everything assumed, implied, or presupposed by the sacred writer is assumed or asserted by the Holy Spirit. But we cannot toss out certain assertions on the grounds that they are not the sort of thing that pertains to our salvation. Whatever is asserted by the sacred writer is asserted by the Holy Spirit.

(Aside to Dr. Eric: I am not sure that this construction is not compatible with incidental errors of fact such as the misplacement of a town. It is not clear to me that every detail of a historical account necessarily amounts to an assertion on the part of the author. At the same time, some critics are too ready to read errors into texts where in fact none may exist.)

Incidentally, during my final examinations for my MA in religious studies, I challenged a professor's suggestion that certain Old Testament passages denied the reality of an afterlife. In doing so, I appealed to Dei Verbum -- and she actually replied that scripture was only inerrent regarding "that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation" clause -- despite the fact that the "error" in question was the nonexistence of the afterlife!

Surely, if there is any truth whatsoever that God wants to put into the sacred writings for the sake of salvation, the existence of the afterlife would have to be such a truth? After all, no afterlife, no salvation! (FWIW, she was a solid scholar and a good teacher, and I liked her.)

This is not the same as saying that every sacred author would have been fully conversant with the doctrine of the afterlife -- only that none could assert the contrary, which would amount to the Holy Spirit asserting the contrary, and on a point of eminent importance for salvation at that.

Tim J.

"...all that God wanted asserted and no more..."

Thanks, Jimmy, for a great post.

Meanwhile, the Compendium in English is a wreck on this point and needs to be revised. As more people are likely to read through the Compendium than the entire Catechism, the current rendering has great potential for confusing and misleading the faithful.

"[Sacred Scripture] is said to be inspired and to teach those truths which are necessary for our salvation."

My heart sunk when I read that passage.

JV

I am not sure about the lake verse, but I've seen atheists contend that Luke 2:2 contains an error regarding the governor Quirinius.

NewAdvent clears this up and shows that Luke 2:2 is vindicated of error. People have long nitpicked at "errors" in the Bible only to be later proven false.

I remember reading that historians had discredited something about the Assyrian and Babylonian empire which was recorded in the Bible, only later to discover, based on some finding, that what the Scriptures recorded was correct.

I must say, though, that the ambiguity present in Dei Verbum, like most of the Vatican II documents, is maddening and invites criticism from all corners.

There is almost no question that all prior popes infallibly taught the inerrancy of Scripture.

It is therefore impossible to change that teaching, and Catholics would to well to tell their priests and RCIA directors as much.

JV

I am not sure about the lake verse, but I've seen atheists contend that Luke 2:2 contains an error regarding the governor Quirinius.

NewAdvent clears this up and shows that Luke 2:2 is vindicated of error. People have long nitpicked at "errors" in the Bible only to be later proven false.

I remember reading that historians had discredited something about the Assyrian and Babylonian empire which was recorded in the Bible, only later to discover, based on some finding, that what the Scriptures recorded was correct.

I must say, though, that the ambiguity present in Dei Verbum, like most of the Vatican II documents, is maddening and invites criticism from all corners.

There is almost no question that all prior popes infallibly taught the inerrancy of Scripture.

It is therefore impossible to change that teaching, and Catholics would to well to tell their priests and RCIA directors as much.

SDG

Yikes, Tim J is right.

The Compendium doesn't even say that sacred scripture is inspired, only that it is "said to be" inspired. Worse, while it indicates that the scriptures teach "those truths which are necessary for our salvation," even this limited truth is not said to be taught "without error."

So the Compendium doesn't teach any form of inerrrancy, even with respect to truths necessary for salvation. What has carried over from Dei Verbum is not the "without error" part, but only the limitation clause.

Nothing about what is asserted by the sacred author being asserted by the Holy Spirit.

I'd say this is one for a second edition.

whosebob

Thanks, Jimmy, this is an important issue and your clear thinking and reflection on the matter is helpful.

Here is something that I usually point out: consider this statement which is commonly and casually asserted even today in all sorts of contexts,

The Sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

Now, is that statement true? Well, we could jump all over someone who asserted it as fact, pointing out that the Sun isn't really "rising or setting," it's the rotation of the Earth on its axis that is producing the effect. But that would be silly; the expression is a faithful description of a physical phenomenon seen from the vantage point of someone on the Earth's surface (except maybe for someone at the Earth's poles).

Another one: the late Nobel Laureate Richard Feyman once wrote (quite seriously) that if there was only piece of modern scientific truth that could be transmitted to the next generation, with all else certain to be lost for some reason or another (e.g. a Canticle for Leibowitz type of scenario), the most valuable idea to transmit would be that the world is made up of atoms. If you think about it you'll see why: that truth has vast implications for a rediscovery of chemistry, electromagnetism, conservation laws, and just about everything else. Yet the Bible doesn't give us any clue as to this basic fact about the universe, that the matter in it is made up of atoms. How then can the Bible be completely inerrant? The maint point in this case is that Sacred Scripture does have a specific purpose; St. Augustine of Hippo once wrote: The Spirit of God who spoke through [the biblical writers] did not choose to teach about the heavens to men, as it was of no use for salvation. So Sacred Scripture has been given to us for the sake of our salvation, and it would be wrong to look in it for instruction in chemistry or physical cosmology; we cannot expect that God has given us in the Bible a handbook of the physical sciences. At the same time, though, a news article covering the funeral of a celebrity would not be said to be errant (or even inaccurate) if it failed to give the chemical makeup of the casket or the rotational velocity of the planet. If we can determine the factual scope of a particular piece of literature and the author's intent in writing it, we can set reasonable bounds as to what could be left out and what must be included in order for it to be judged to be inaccurate or errant.

There are many other examples I could dig out, but here's the point: I am a huge advocate of the unrestricted inerrancy of Scripture, but I think it is entirely compatible to assert that God working through the human authors would not necessarily "override" their use of descriptions, historical recountings, explanations, etc. which were limited in their accuracy in the same way in which the "sun rising" description is limited in its accuracy. In other words, God by His inspiration would not necessarily (though He could) override the human authors' faithfully describing physical phenomenon or recounting historical events as they were understood by them or known by them at the time, even when that would entail limitations in accuracy or outright inaccuracies.

I think the Magisterium backs me up on this too.

Pope Pius XII in Divino Afflante Spiritu (1943): When, subsequently, some Catholic writers, in spite of this solemn definition of Catholic doctrine, by which such divine authority is claimed for the "entire books with all their parts" as to secure freedom from any error whatsoever, ventured to restrict the truth of Sacred Scripture solely to matters of faith and morals, and to regard other matters, whether in the domain of physical science or history, as "obiter dicta" and - as they contended - in no wise connected with faith, Our Predecessor of immortal memory, Leo XIII in the Encyclical Letter Providentissimus Deus, published on November 18 in the year 1893, justly and rightly condemned these errors and safe-guarded the studies of the Divine Books by most wise precepts and rules. (Divino Afflante Spiritu, para. 1)

And: The first and greatest care of Leo XIII was to set forth the teaching on the truth of the Sacred Books and to defend it from attack. Hence with grave words did he proclaim that there is no error whatsoever if the sacred writer, speaking of things of the physical order "went by what sensibly appeared" as the Angelic Doctor says,(Cf. Iª, q. 70, art. I ad 3) speaking either "in figurative language, or in terms which were commonly used at the time, and which in many instances are in daily use at this day, even among the most eminent men of science." For "the sacred writers, or to speak more accurately - the words are St. Augustine's - (De Gen. ad litt. 2, 9, 20; PL 34, col. 270 s.; CSEL 28 (Sectio III, pars. 2), p. 46) the Holy Spirit, Who spoke by them, did not intend to teach men these things - that is the essential nature of the things of the universe - things in no way profitable to salvation"; which principle "will apply to cognate sciences, and especially to history,"(Leonis XIII acta XIII, p. 355; Ench. Bibl. n. 106; supra, p. 22.) that is, by refuting, "in a somewhat similar way the fallacies of the adversaries and defending the historical truth of Sacred Scripture from their attacks."(Cf. Benedictus XV, Enc. Spiritus Paraclitus, Acta Ap. Sedis XII (1920), p. 396; Ench. Bibl. n. 471; supra p. 53.) Nor is the sacred writer to be taxed with error, if "copyists have made mistakes in the text of the Bible," or, "if the real meaning of a passage remains ambiguous." Finally it is absolutely wrong and forbidden "either to narrow inspiration to certain passages of Holy Scripture, or to admit that the sacred writer has erred," since divine inspiration "not only is essentially incompatible with error but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true. This is the ancient and constant faith of the Church."(Leonis XIII Acta XIII, P. 357 sq.; Ench. Bibl. n. 109 sq.; supra, pp. 23-25.) (Divino Afflante Spiritu, para. 3)

For those who are interested in learning more, I recommend they read Fr. William Most's book Free From All Error: Authorship, Inerrancy, Historicity of Scripture, Church Teaching, and Modern Scripture Scholars. The entire text is freely available at that link. As they are related to the overall matter of the "reliability" of Scripture, I also recomment you read the Introduction and Appendices of another of Fr. Most's books, The Counsciousness of Christ.

Michael

I remember studying the Latin of Dei Verbum while I was at Steubenville. Dr. Hahn agreed with your analysis, though another professor at Steubenville holds the view that only those matters that affect and effect salvation are inerrant.

The literal phrasing of the Latin tends to lend credence to the opposing theory that you hold, though I agree with you that the spirit of Dei Verbum bespeaks of an unrestricted inerrancy. As you know well, Latin word order is not necessarily translated literally into English. Besides, the tradition of biblical teaching in Catholicism tends to support your position.

The Fathers of the Church certainly held to an unrestricted inerrancy. Consider the following analysis of Joseph Lienhard, Patristics scholar at Fordham:

"...(the Fathers)assumed that the whole Bible, and all its parts, are true. And since this is the case, the whole Bible must contain a single, unified teaching. If it appears not to, then the problem is in our perception, not in the Bible itself. Moreover, biblical truth is always significant, even profound; and passages that appear superficial must have a deeper meaning" (The Bible, the Church, and Authority, pp.46-47).

Because of the inconsistant (but not contradictory) teachings of the Roman Curia on the Bible and its inerrancy (consider the Pontifical Biblical Commission of Pope Pius X vs. the PBC after Vatican II), it's easier to point to the testimony of the Fathers on the prayer, preaching and practices of and around the scriptures. The prayer and practice of the Early Church in this regard falls under Sacred Tradition rather than exclusively or mainly under the authority of the Magisterium. The infallibility of the Catholic tradition of inerrancy seems to be a matter of Tradition as discussed by, not dictated by, the Magisterium.

Evangelical Catholicism

Tim J.

"I remember studying the Latin of Dei Verbum while I was at Steubenville. Dr. Hahn agreed with your analysis, though another professor at Steubenville holds the view that only those matters that affect and effect salvation are inerrant. "

And do these theologians have an inerrant and infallible list of the biblical passages that pertain to our salvation and those that don't? Isn't that a bit of a dead giveaway? What is the difference between that approach and the Thomas Jefferson bible?

SDG

Also, how does the errantist approach deal with the preceding phrase that "everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit"?

Jeb Protestant

I would mention that the late Raymond Brown, among others, taught that the Bible contains all sorts of errors (theological and historical). For example, he argued that Jesus and Paul were wrong about the extent of demonic activity in the world, Job denied the existence of an afterlife, etc. He claim that Vatican II had a restricted view of inerrancy. Two popes (Paul VI and JP II) placed him on the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

Of course it's possible that Paul VI and JP II didn't know what Brown taught, but since JP II placed other liberals such as Donald Senior and Joe Fitzmeyer on the PBC, I think it's most likely that recent popes do not believe in inerrancy as traditionally understood.

Tim J.

Jeb, Jeb, Jeb...

Again with this? Neither Brown nor Senior nor Fitzmeyer enjoy the gift of infallibility in their doctrinal pronouncements, and (as you well know) Catholics are welcome to study their writings and then ignore them if they like (though I think everyone should be familiar with their theories).

You cannot pin the errant musings of nominal Catholic theologians on the whole Catholic Church.

We may have a fuller understanding of what it means for the writers to "assert" some teaching, but that can't be equated with the doctrinal shell-game of unbridled historical criticism.

To say that this or that modern pope has beliefs that are different from some earlier popes is not the same as saying that these different views are not capable of being harmonized. "Different" does not mean "incompatible". But that's authentic development of doctrine, and on that I am SURE we will disagree.

Michael

Tim J.,

Good point, though it was only one professor (that I knew of). I think he would respond that passages in Scripture that deal explicitly with salvation history would be inerrant, but I cannot speak for him. But keep in mind that someone who rejects inerrancy as the work of the Spirit for passages that do not explicitly speak of salvation history does not necessarily say that the other passages contain any errors. The rest of the Bible may well be inerrant, according to these individuals, but the inerrancy is not due to the work of the Spirit. The issue is whether inerrancy as a grace and not as human accuracy is applied to all words in Scripture or only to those that pertain explicitly to salvation history.

I, on the other hand, agree with Hahn on the question. Inerrancy was the rule of the Fathers, and in my opinion, that's authority enough for me.

Evangelical Catholicism

Brother Cadfael

That is to say, any time Scripture makes a factual assertion then, properly understood, it's guaranteed to be true.

One of the problems with "unrestricted inerrancy" is the qualifier Jimmy has identified; that is, factual assertions must be "properly understood." All too often -- e.g., creation in 144 hours -- factual assertions are not properly understood, and the "inerrant" stamp is applied to the misunderstood factual assertion.


Brother Cadfael

To be clear, when I said this -- and the "inerrant" stamp is applied to the misunderstood factual assertion -- in the preceding post, I was referring to non-magisterial types applying the "inerrant" stamp, no the Magisterium.

paul f

I'm not as smart as the rest of you when it comes to reading things in Latin and the like, but it appears that there is at least a grammar error that might be causing some confusion in the English.

In English, isn't it true that "which" is nonrestrictive and "that" is restrictive? If "which" is the right word, wouldn't a comma be appropriate?

Aren't these the two possibilities?

1. "[Sacred Scripture] is said to be inspired and to teach those truths, which are necessary for our salvation."

2. "[Sacred Scripture] is said to be inspired and to teach those truths that are necessary for our salvation."

These would have wildly different meanings and phrasing #1 would need an antecedent for "those truths" -- perhaps those asserted by the Holy Spirit. I haven't read this, so I'm not exactly sure what precedes it.

Again, I know I'm not really getting to the heart of the issue, but that struck me as odd.

Truefaith

I could be mistaken--someone, correct me if I am wrong, but isn't a DENIAL of 'unrestricted errancy' of the Bible, a heresy that was condemned by Pope Pius 9th(or 10th?) as part of the heresy of 'modernism'? It seems that to deny the 'unrestricted errancy' of the Bible, really opens the door to eventually questioning the validity of Christianity in TOTAL! This is a slippery slope, which really will undermine the faith of those on it's path. I believe in 'unrestricted errancy'.

Jeb Protestant

Tim, Tim, Tim --

Are you seriously saying that JP II didn't have a general idea of what these men teach when he put them on the PBC? Are you saying the reason he put them there as opposed to the likes of William Most and Manuel Miguens had nothing to do with their beliefs?

Generally speaking, leaders place people in certain positions because they agree with them.

Brother Cadfael

Generally speaking, leaders place people in certain positions because they agree with them.

In certain positions, certainly. In others, not so certainly.

Brent Robbins

What about the view that the original Scriptures were inerrant, but the copies we have today are errant? That's what makes the most sense to me.

JV

[I]What about the view that the original Scriptures were inerrant, but the copies we have today are errant? That's what makes the most sense to me.[/i]

And what error is contained in today's copies of the Scriptures?

The problem here is that everyone seems to be frightfully concerned that some error has popped up in the Bible and so we must perform a series of hermeneutical gymnastics in speaking about inerrancy to preserve past teaching while excusing this "error."

The only issue is, of course, that no one has yet pointed out these "errors."

We've already noted that St. Luke's "problem" about Quirinius is not a problem at all. Someone else pointed out that historians were WRONG about that Assyrian king, and the Bible was right.

Where is the error, then, that must be whitewashed away by these fantastical explanations?

SDG

Jeb, it is entirely reasonable to suppose that Fr. Brown was appointed to the Pontifical Biblical Commission for the excellence of his biblical scholarship, not because JP2 agreed with all of his theological opinions, even opinions about the Bible.

Jeb Protestant

SDG,

Your position would be reasonable if JP II appointed conservative scholars to the PBC, but to the best of my knowledge, most of them were similar to Brown.

Of course no one denies that Brown was knowledgeable about the Bible or that his works are "scholarly," but the same could be said of Bultmann. As a first requirement for membership on the PBC, wouldn't the person have to accurately represent the Catholic view of the Bible?

And by the way, what is so excellent about Brown's Community of the Beloved Disciple where he posits multiple layers of editing without any evidence? Or what about his view that, while he believes in the "virginal conception" as a matter of doctrine, he doesn't think the NT necessarily teaches it?

Eric G.

SDG:

That doesn't make sense at all.

Certainly the Holy Father may not agree with the opinions of every man he appoints to a Pontifical Commission. But we're not talking about opinins about which good, orthodox Catholics may be in disagreement. We're talking outright heresy, and it's a scandal that the Pope would appoint a blatant heretic to such a Commission. It indicates either a) a complicity in the theologian's heresy or b) a gross negligence in knowing who you're appointing to such a prominent post. There is such a thing as culpable negligence, ya know; on this ground, Pope Honorius was condemned in strong terms by the Church after his death.

Dev Thakur

Jeb is right. Remember that document John Paul II issued where he said that he would only appoint people that he agreed with on all major positions?

In that same document, he said that you could ignore his own writings, and go by the writings of his appointees to determine what he *really* believed. What was that document again?

Okay, I am obviously being sarcastic to make fun of Jeb's position. But on a more serious note: if John Paul II was an errantist because he appointed errantists, wouldn't he also be a non-errantist for appointing non-errantists? Which one is it?

The answer is: the question is flawed, because to learn about John Paul II's views we do best to read his own writings.

Maureen

Why would God want to tell us all the scientific facts?

I don't think it's enough to say that it's not useful knowledge for salvation. Being told everything would be a stifling of free will, as expressed through experimentation and discovery. God loves us too much to do that to us.

Jeb Protestant

SDG,

Here is another member of the PBC (at least of 1997), one Dom Henry Wansbrough:

http://www.abc.net.au/religion/stories/s1053620.htm

commenting on Gibson's movie:

"Stephen Crittenden: To what extent are the Gospel accounts imaginative recreations however?"

"Dom Henry Wansbrough: We can only guess on that. We know that the disciples ran away, that Peter stayed some distance away for the trial, but how much else they knew, we really can’t reconstruct, but we can say that the evangelists said that it must have happened that way. How much they knew that it did happen I don’t know, but they saw that it must have happened that way."

And here is this member of the PBC commenting on the first 11 chapters of Genesis --

"These chapters are no more historical writing than is Little Red Riding Hood; the truths they convey are wholly different."

http://www.catholicchurch.org.uk/cn/05/051121.htm

Brother Cadfael

Eric,

We're talking outright heresy, and it's a scandal that the Pope would appoint a blatant heretic to such a Commission.

Strong charges. Rather than maligning several persons, including the Holy Father, with such a broad brush, perhaps the prudent course would be to provide an actual citation to an actual heresy. I am not a huge fan of Raymond Brown, and where the available evidence permits more than one logical interpretation I often find myself reaching a different conclusion than him, but I have not run across any statement of his (as opposed to a characterization of what he says) that I found to be actually heretical.

SDG

Please note that I did not say that I thought the nomination of Fr. Brown to the PBC was a good decision. "Scandalous" is at least arguably not too strong a word.

However, whether some of JP2's decisions were arguably scandalous is one question, and whether he personally believed that the Bible contained erroneous assertions, especially in matters pertaining to salvation, is something else.

Beyond that, whatever any pope's personal opinions may or may not be, what matters is what he teaches. I am not aware of JP2 ever teaching against inerrancy, as Fr. Brown did. The private opinions of a pope that are not even fallibly proposed and taught have no weight whatsoever, and do not even begin to militate against the weight of tradition and the magisterium in support of inerrancy.

Dei Verbum affirms the inerrancy of whatever is asserted by the sacred author, period, and that is still the most authoritative recent statement on the subject. I don't see any way around it.

whosebob

Brother Cadfael wrote: I am not a huge fan of Raymond Brown, and where the available evidence permits more than one logical interpretation I often find myself reaching a different conclusion than him, but I have not run across any statement of his (as opposed to a characterization of what he says) that I found to be actually heretical.

I find myself more sympathetic to your views, Bro., than to some of the other opinions expressed here. BUT, the following are quotations from the writings of Fr. Raymond Brown:

The New Testament gives us no reason to think that Jesus and Paul were not deadly serious about the demonic world.... I do not believe the demons inhabit desert places or the upper air, as Jesus and Paul thought... I see no way to get around the difficulty except by saying that Jesus and Paul were wrong on this point. They accepted the beliefs of their times about demons, but those beliefs were superstitious. (Brown, Raymond. St. Anthony's Messenger, May 1971, 47-48.)

We cannot assume that Jesus shared our own sophistication on some of these questions [on afterlife]. If Jesus speaks of heaven above the clouds . . . how can we be sure that he knew it was not above the clouds? (Brown, Raymond. Jesus, God and Man, Macmillan, 1967, p. 56.)


I can find more like that. Now are those statements/speculations outright heretical? Perhaps ... perhaps not. But they certainly seem to be way out of line with the Deposit of Faith! That is just my opinion.

J.R. Stoodley

To say that Jesus was wrong on anything is not just heretical, it is blasphemous.

Pete

This is a very interesting post, and I have realized that I was fed a very restricted inerrancy view in a class I had to take for the L.A. Archdiocese (yeah, I know). It was based on this same partial quotation of Dei Verbum that Jimmy referenced and everyone else has commented on.

(I do not believe the demons "inhabit desert places or the upper air", as Jesus and Paul thought...)

I don't even know where this is taken from within scripture, but assuming it is an accurate reference, what available interpretations are available to us regarding it, besides demons "occupying" a particular place in the atmosphere? While it is obviously vital to establish the actual teaching of the Church, the question could also be made moot by showing how all the difficult passages can be shown to be without error.

Pete

One more thing. Is someone just playing games if he says that while all scriptural assertions are without error, other things said may not qualify as assertions (maybe merely assumptions, or mentionings, which is probably not a word), and therefore not qualify as inerrant? I feel no compulsion to make this argument; it just seems like a possible argument one might encounter. Any thoughts?

Jonathan McNeir

I've struggled with understanding the inerrancy of the Bible at times. Maybe someone can help me with the following scenario:

In the Gospels, we are given two different stories concerning a storm on the Sea of Galilee and Jesus' power over the natural world.

In one, Jesus is in the boat, his apostles wake him up and he commands the storm to be silent. In the other, Jesus is on the coast and walks on the water to the ship.

At the end of both stories, the apostles marvel over Jesus' mastery of the natural world and wonder what manner of man he is. The descriptions of the apostles' reactions sound so similar in both accounts -- almost the exact same words -- that I have at least on one occasion wondered if these were not two separate treatments of the same historical occurrence. However, that view seems at odds with the Church's view on inerrancy.

But, either way, it seems strange to me that the apostles would see Jesus walk to them on water and then still marvel at his power over nature --in almost the same words -- at a later time, when he commands a storm to be silent.

I have serious trouble understanding this, so if someone can explain it to me, I'd really appreciate it.

Eric G.

Jonathon:

The most obvious solition to me is that they are describing two separate instances.

J.R. Stoodley

The disciples were pretty dense (before Pentacost), and the details of each incident were different, so I don't think their similar reactions each time is incomprehensible. In any case we weren't there to witness the details or ask the disciples why they were surprised the second time, but God said it happened that way, so it did.

J.R. Stoodley

Just a thought, one possibility of many: the second storm (whichever was second) might have been more intense and/or its ending more sudden upon Jesus' command, and leading the disciples to be shocked the second time too.

Or maybe the Holy Spirit revealed a deeper meaning to the calming of the sea the second time, causing another reaction of surprise.

Or again, maybe they were just dense and needed repetition to get something to sink in. Plus they may have realized something similar had happened in the past even as they found the same words comming out of their mouths.

Generally there are so many possibilities to explain this sort of thing that I don't worry about it.

Brother Cadfael

whosebob,

Now are those statements/speculations outright heretical? Perhaps ... perhaps not. But they certainly seem to be way out of line with the Deposit of Faith!

Thanks for the quotes. Some more points on which I find Raymond Brown's speculative musings quite useless. I rather doubt that either of those qualifies as outright heresy, but I'd certainly be willing to be proven wrong on that point.

J.R.,

To say that Jesus was wrong on anything is not just heretical, it is blasphemous.

Is that true? I do not know why some people feel the need to say that Jesus was wrong on anything, but I am also not certain that either Scripture or the Church definitively teach that Jesus was never wrong on anything at all, ever.

bill912

How can One Who stated "I am the...Truth" ever be in error? How can God ever be wrong?

Pseudomodo

In his book "Purgatory explained by the lives and legends of the Saints", Fr. F. X. Schouppe points out that heaven and hell and prugatory do exist and he speculates where they might be.

He points out that scripture says angels exist and operate in our world of the air and upper atmosphere and that hell is somewhere underground in the firey bowels of the earth.

His speculation is that, in conformance with scripture, if angels exist in our upper world with us while at the same time not altering our physicality, then hell can be said to exist and operate in the underworld while at the same time not altering its physicality.

The imprimatur for this book was given in 1893...

Metaphysics rules!!

J.R. Stoodley

Brother Cadfael,

To say that Jesus was wrong on anything is not just heretical, it is blasphemous.

Is that true? I do not know why some people feel the need to say that Jesus was wrong on anything, but I am also not certain that either Scripture or the Church definitively teach that Jesus was never wrong on anything at all, ever.

I am using my own reason here. Scripture and the Church teach that Jesus is God. Are you willing to say there is even the slightest possibility that God is ever wrong? Yes, Jesus had a human nature and did not know everything with his human intellect, but he was and is a Divine Person. A nature does not speak or act, a person does. The person behind every word and action of Jesus is God the Son. Therefore his words are the words of God, and God is never wrong. If anything is blasphemous, I think saying "God [or Jesus] got it wrong here" qualifies.

Brother Cadfael

bill912,

Just playing devil's advocate here (although I'm not implying Brown is the devil), but using the same argument, would it ever be correct to say that Jesus learned anything? If he's God and the Truth, wouldn't he already know everything? Yet, Scripture says he grew in wisdom after returning home with Mary and Joseph. Scripture also says that the Son does not know the time and place, only the Father does. How can this be, and in what sense should we understand this?

And if there is some sense in which we can understand that Jesus didn't know everything, would there not also be some sense in which one could posit that Jesus might have been wrong on some insignificant details?

I'll stress again that I don't necessarily agree with that proposition. I find it much more likely that Jesus was never wrong, and I've certainly never seen a convincing argument that he was. I just don't know that the Church regards it as either heretical or blasphemous to say that he might have been.

Joe S

How does one explain this discrepancy?

Acts 1:18: "Now this man (Judas) purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out."

Matt. 27:5-7: "And he (Judas) cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests...bought with them the potter's field."

The problem I have with unlimited inerrancy is that it just doesn't fit the facts. Just my two cents.

J.R. Stoodley

Brother Cadfael,

Sure, Jesus learned, grew, became wise in his human nature. He never knew everything with his human intellect. All that has to do with his human nature. However, when you come to actual actions it is a person responsible for them, not Jesus' human nature. Jesus is only one person, a Divine Person. To say he was wrong would mean a person actually made a mistake. God can not make mistakes. It doesn't matter how insignificant the mistake would have been, Jesus never made it, just like the Holy Spirit never inspired a human author to write something wrong in Sacred Scripture.

Brent Robbins

Joe S:

From CARM.org:

"There is no contradiction here at all because both are true. A contradiction occurs when one statement excludes the possibility of another. In fact, what happened here is that Judas went and hung himself and then his body later fell down and split open. In other words, the rope or branch of the tree probably broke due to the weight and his body fell down and his bowels spilled out.
Also, notice that Matt. 27:3-8 tells us specifically how Judas died, by hanging. Acts 1:16-19 merely tells us that he fell headlong and his bowels gushed out. Acts does not tell us that this is the means of his death where Matthew does."

J.R. Stoodley

John S.

A few ideas:

Perhaps the author only means to assert what Peter said in Acts, not to confirm his story. In this case Peter may have just been wrong, believing a rumor about Judas' death. It seems Steven was wrong on some of what he said before his martyrdom, but the Holy Spirit still saw fit to let us know his last words. This could be a similar situation.

Or maybe both stories provide some of the details of a detailed situation. For instance, the "wages of his iniquity" may be the money he stole from the donations, not the 30 pieces of silver. He may have used this stolen money to buy a field, which he went to and hung himself on after betraying Jesus. As he was "falling headlong" hanging himself, his guts burst out. Later on the priests bought the same field with the 30 pieces of silver and built a cemetary there.

Other explanations are probebly possible, these are just what come to mind at the moment. The important point is that you can never say the text is just wrong (unless it is a transcription or translation issue of course).

Brent Robbins

Jimmy Akin states the current Scriptures we have now are in error, at least to some level of degree:

"What we have here is a classic example of a copyist error. Before the printing press, each copy of the Bible had to be produced by hand from a previous copy. Though the scribes doing the copying were amazingly meticulous in their efforts, occasionally a scribe would get sleepy or lose his concentration or mishear a word in the text as it was being read aloud, and he would make a mistake. These tiny mistakes are called copyist errors, and they were dangerous because, if not caught, they would be passed on to future copies made from this scribe's work."

http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/1994/9409qq.asp

Brother Cadfael

J.R.,

I'm not disagreeing with you. I think you've stated it well. I guess the question I have is this, is that your opinion (or your evaluation of the evidence) or do you believe the Church has defined that? Again, I'm not saying they haven't, but I'm not aware of the Church having done so.

Brent Robbins

I take that back, that may not have been written by Jimmy. Nonetheless, the view of Catholic Answers.

Like I said, I believe the original transcripts of the Scriptures were inerrant, but what we have today has some level of error in them, due to scribes, etc.

whosebob

Brother Cadfael wrote: Thanks for the quotes. Some more points on which I find Raymond Brown's speculative musings quite useless. I rather doubt that either of those qualifies as outright heresy, but I'd certainly be willing to be proven wrong on that point.

There is a quote from Pope Pius XII's encyclical letter Mystici Corporis Christi in which the Pope instructs us with regards to the human consciousness of Our Lord and Savior; it doesn't directly address the question as to Jesus' specific knowledge of the afterlife, but it makes Fr. Brown's speculation with regards to the same to stand out for what it is -- nonsense, and he should have known better given that he made those statements in 1967 and Mystici Corporis Christi was promulgated in 1943. The quote from the encyclical will follow; N.B. that the same text has been in included in Denzinger since the 1950s (including the latest edition) and in Neuner-Dupuis as well, and as you know those collections (are intended to) provide only the most authoritative teachings of the Magisterium across the centuries:

Now the only-begotten Son of God embraced us in His infinite knowledge and undying love even before the world began. And that He might give a visible and exceedingly beautiful expression to this love, He assumed our nature in hypostatic union: hence - as Maximus of Turin with a certain unaffected simplicity remarks - "in Christ our own flesh loves us." (Serm. XXIX: Migne, P.L., LVII, 594.) But the knowledge and love of our Divine Redeemer, of which we were the object from the first moment of His Incarnation, exceed all that the human intellect can hope to grasp. For hardly was He conceived in the womb of the Mother of God, when He began to enjoy the Beatific Vision, and in that vision all the members of His Mystical Body were continually and unceasingly present to Him, and He embraced them with His redeeming love. O marvelous condescension of divine love for us! O inestimable dispensation of boundless charity! In the crib, on the Cross, in the unending glory of the Father, Christ has all the members of the Church present before Him and united to Him in a much clearer and more loving manner than that of a mother who clasps her child to her breast, or than that with which a man knows and loves himself. (Mystici Corporis Christi, para. 75)
[emphasis mine]

Joe S.

Thanks for the responses. I take it that the best procedure for biblical interpretation is simply to assume that it is entirely inerrant and then, where inconsistencies emerge, accept the best explanation that harmonizes the passages, even if that explanation doesn't seem likely?

At what point would something constitute a real contradiction? Unless, you have a completely straightforward contradiction, it seems that you can harmonize just about anything. These are just some things that puzzle me. I will definitely take a look at Fr. Most's book. Thanks.

Brother Cadfael

whosebob,

Now I know what criminal defense lawyers must feel like. I want to make it clear that the only charges for which I am defending (to use the term loosely) Brown are the charges of heresy or blasphemy. (And that only on a no-evidence point; if someone makes the case for heresy and/or blasphemy, I'll drop the case like a hot tamale, or tomato or potato or whatever.)

While I would concede "nonsense" on Brown's part, I take it you are not alleging that the cited text from Mystici Corporis -- which I think supports J.R.'s point quite nicely -- suffices to make the case against Brown for heresy and/or blasphemy.

Matt McDonald

Br. Cadfael,

We do understand that Jesus in His human nature learned and grew, it seems possible, that as he learned to work in carpentry, he made mistakes of skill and knowledge and was corrected by His teacher St. Joseph, these are things that are purely of the human world and relate in no way to His mission. For someone to suggest He made mistakes regarding the presence of evil spirits in the world, or any other matter relating to His mission on earth is absolutely heretical and blasphemous. For one to open that possibility is to open the possibility that anything He said was subject to human error.

whosebob

Be sure to visit the top-level MOST Theological Collection

Note well the columns on that page which are labeled "type" and "publication information." Fr. Most donated to the pre-cursor of CatholicCulture.org (which was called PetersNet) all of the theology and Scripture related notes, articles, essays, etc. he'd authored, and the rights to those documents, which were stored on his personal computer. (He made the donation a few years prior to his death.) Those documents which are categorized as "Article" and "Printed" and such are rather well polished works. But quite a few, e.g. those labeled "Notes," are really pretty brisk and in a kind of literary "shorthand," and that has to be kept in mind when reading them.

A short biography of Fr. William G. Most.

A longer biography.

Here are three of his works that I've enjoyed:

Grace, Predestination and the Salvific Will of God: New Answers to Old Questions

A Biblical Theology of Redemption in a Covenant Framework

Cooperation in Redemption
(a later, shorter, edited version of the same, with a slightly different ending)

And make sure to check out the two I linked to in an earlier comment.

Brother Cadfael

Matt,

For someone to suggest He made mistakes regarding the presence of evil spirits in the world, or any other matter relating to His mission on earth is absolutely heretical and blasphemous.

Is Brown suggesting that Jesus was mistaken about (a) the location of the evil spirits, or (b) the presence of evil spirits? While I find the former nonsensical, it is not so clear to me that it is heretical or blasphemous.

whosebob

Br. Cadfael, I apologize if I made you feel like you are in the "hotseat." I am not charging the late Fr. Brown (eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord ...) with formal heresy or blasphemy, though he seems to have slipped into some material heresies now and again ... but who am I to judge; which is why I've made a point to line his statements up side-by-side with the clear teaching of the Magisterium, so its not "whosebob vs. Brown" but "Brown in comparison to Magisterium." Moreover, I didn't intend for my criticisms to imply that I considered you as Fr. Brown's advocate -- I just wanted to add more relevant information to the discussion.

Peace and God blesss.
In Christ.
IC XC NIKA

whosebob

For those wanting to dig deeper into the questions surrounding the human consciousness and knowledge of Jesus Christ, the following may be helpful:

Knowledge of Jesus Christ (an article in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia)

And let me provide, one more time, a link to Fr. Most's excellent book on this topic: The Consciousness of Christ (published in print by Christendom Press in 1980; now freely available in its entirety via CatholicCulture.org)

"Generally speaking, leaders place people in certain positions because they agree with them."

Jeb, for all we know Fathers Brown and Fitzmyer, et al., were placed on the PBC as a means of inoculating the Church from their erroneous speculations, especially since hardly anyone actually reads the rare, occasional things that the PBC publishes every now and then.

The post-Vatican II PBC is not an arm of the Magisterium -- it's just an advisory body, a group of Bible scholars who offer their opinions to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Getting a seat on the PBC means you're a talented, gifted scholar -- it doesn't say anything at all about whether or not the Pope thinks your ideas are correct.

Jordan Potter

"One more thing. Is someone just playing games if he says that while all scriptural assertions are without error, other things said may not qualify as assertions (maybe merely assumptions, or mentionings, which is probably not a word), and therefore not qualify as inerrant? I feel no compulsion to make this argument; it just seems like a possible argument one might encounter. Any thoughts?"

As a matter of fact, some people make that exact argument: that just because the Bible make a factual statement, that doesn't mean the Bible is "asserting" it.

Fr. Brian Harrison has an expert and thorough examination Dei Verbum 11 and the various erroneous interpretations that are popular among Catholic exegetes, here:

http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt59.html

These articles by Fr. Harrison are also well worth reading:

http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt60.html

http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt61.html

http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt68.html

And in fact there's a veritable treasure trove of study papers on biblical issues at the Roman Theological Forum's website:

http://www.rtforum.org/lt/index.html

Joe S.

The article by Father Harrison is quite good. Here is a question that came to me: If every assertion of a biblical author (let's take Genesis) is true, then doesn't that preclude any theory of evolution that has human beings evolving from lower species? Granted, the language used in Genesis 1 and 2 is somewhat figurative and symbolic, but it seems clear that the sacred author is asserting that man, body and spirit, was taken immediately out of the ground and that Eve was taken out of the man. Also, The strict separation of kinds of things shows that they were created independently of one another. I am familiar with "Humanae Generis" and the general discussion regarding evolution. It just seems like this strict view of inerrancy favors those who oppose evolutionary theory.

Brother Cadfael

whosebob,

Not a problem. I was just trying to clarify. I think your approach is commendable, and I suspect you have just scratched the surface with our dear departed friend.

Michelangelo

Words, whether they be the "inerrant" words of Scripture or the words of Moby Dick, are like specks of paint on a canvas. They may be put down in color or black and white exactly as the Artist wanted them to be, but that doesn't mean it's going to be viewed by anyone else in the same way. A dozen Popes can write volumes proclaiming how it is to viewed, but yet again, even those volumes are subject to the same issues of interpretation.

The Church, as teacher, can teach all it wants "without error" like the sun circles the earth each day without error. That doesn't mean everyone who views a sunset sees it in the same way, or even that they can or should, no matter how much teaching pours forth.

whosebob

Michelangelo, your idea seems difficult to apply usefully. Two people who fall out of the same tree may describe the experience differently, but both of them experienced gravity. If one of them described the experience in a way that was incosistent with the phenomenon of gravity as it occurs over and over again -- perhaps positing that his body rushed towards the earth only because he willed it in his mind -- then we could discount his view out of practicality, besides other reasons.

Any two people may "experience" the Scriptures differently, but at the end of the day some interpretations will be contrary to Deposit of Faith as handed on by the Apostles, some will be not incompatible w/ the DoF even if they othwerwise have little external or internal support with regards to overall text, and some will line up more or less well with what the Fathers and the Magisterium have proposed to us over the centuries.

Some Day

This is one topic not everyone here is quite capable of decently argueing.
This can require lots of combox time, which I am currently out of.

Martin Pueden

Here's another question: At the crucifixion, one Gospel tells the story about St. Dismas. But another Gospel seems to suggest that those mocking Jesus included BOTH men. St. Dismas could not have been mocking Jesus, so I'm not sure how to reconcile those two accounts.

Michelangelo

If one of them described the experience in a way that was incosistent with the phenomenon of gravity as it occurs over and over again... then we could discount his view out of practicality

You mean if your view, your notion of what you believe someone else said appears to be inconsistent with your notion of what you believe gravity to be, then you would discount your own notion of what you believe someone else said to maintain your notion of gravity. In short, you would discount one of your own views for another of your own views, like a man who changes seats in a theater and then goes back to his old seat because he finds it's more comfy for his tush. That's the "practicality" you speak of: personal comfort.

Anyway, you speak of the "phenomenon of gravity." A phenomenon is a temporary experience of the senses, and that which is temporary is not permanent, not eternal, and thus not Real. That it may appear to occur "over and over again" is not only itself a notion but also unprovable apart from the perception. To "occur" only requires that a notion come to mind. It's unprovable that gravity or the "practicality" of any view of gravity has any reality apart from mind.

Any two people may "experience" the Scriptures differently, but at the end of the day some interpretations will be contrary to Deposit of Faith as handed on by the Apostles

Any appearance of being "contrary" is itself an interpretation. At the end of the day, should YOU be the One standing ALONE, there will be no interpretation and no contrary. Just YOU.

Michelangelo, your idea seems difficult to apply usefully.

That any idea can be applied usefully is itself an idea. If you imagine one idea is somehow more or less useful than another, then that is what you've done: imagined.

John

The revealed word of Christ? Then why has the church retranlated the Bible 4 times or more over the past 40 years and before 1970 had not touched it since the 16th century with the DR bible to counter the Protestants and before that back to basically St Jerome? Well just take a look at the USCCB home page and ask yourself if what you read and hear in mass each Sunday is actually the words of God divine or politically correct garbage?


"The New Testament of The New American Bible, a fresh translation from the Greek text, was first published in complete form in 1970, together with the Old Testament translation that had been completed the previous year. Portions of the New Testament had appeared earlier, in somewhat different form, in the provisional Mass lectionary of 1964 and in the Lectionary for Mass of 1970.
Since 1970 many different printings of the New Testament have been issued by a number of publishers ......
For this purpose a steering committee was formed to plan, organize, and direct the work of revision, to engage collaborators, and to serve as an editoral board to coordinate the work of the various revisers and to determine the final form of the text and the explanatory materials. Guidelines were drawn up and collaborators selected in 1978 and early 1979, and November of 1980 was established as the deadline for manuscripts. From December 1980 through September 1986 the editoral board ......

An especially sensitive problem today is the question of discrimination in language. In recent years there has been much discussion about allegations of anti-Jewish expressions in the New Testament and of language that discriminates against various minorities. Above all, however, the question of discrimination against women affects the largest number of people and arouses the greatest degree of interest and concern. At present there is little agreement about these problems or about the best way to deal with them. In all these areas the present translation attempts to display a sensitivity appropriate to the present state of the questions under discussion, which are not yet resolved and in regard to which it is impossible to please everyone, since intelligent and sincere participants in the debate hold mutually contradictory views".

Tim J.

"that which is temporary is not permanent, not eternal, and thus not Real..."

Why shouldn't something be temporarily real?

Michelangelo, I am not going to waste much time arguing with your dopey sophisms, since I have no evidence that you really exist. I seem to be "reading" some "words" that have "meaning", but who the heck knows, right? You could be just a brain in a vat somewhere.

I'm burning with curiosity to know why you would think it worthwhile to argue with anyone, about anything?

It seems yopu are trying to lay out a meaningful argument that all arguments are meaningless, which is manifestly self-contradictory.

Like it or not, the universe has a point.

I don't worry too much about people who claim to hold the view that life is meaningless, as their behavior contradicts their philosophy at every turn. They are always trying to write meaningful books, or make meaningful works of art, or have meaningful relationships... but somehow in their cosmic mathematics, 1 + 1 + 1 = 0.

Again, I suspect that you are better than your schoolboy philosophy.

J.R. Stoodley

Michaelangelo,

Your philosophy is simply the ending of thought. Human reason can attain truth, and when an opinion clearly contradicts Scripture or the teaching of the Magisterium it is wrong.

John,

The English language has changed enough since the early 17th century that the DR has become hard to understand for many, plus we have much better access to old manuscripts than they did back then, which means we can better spot corruptions of the text and thus write a better translation.

That said, the New American Bible is corrupted by inclusive language, the text is changed in one spot with no textual evidence to fit the ideas of the translators (which damages the development of salvation history) and the footnotes frequently read like they were written by complete skeptics. Since this is a case of individual bishops dissenting from the authentic teachings of the Magisterium we are not bound to give assent to their error. Indeed, I have read that the Vatican (I'm not sure what specific group) expressed displeasure at the New American Bible and forced changes to be made in the lectionary to allow it to be read at mass. These changes were made in the lectionary, but the problems remain in the actual Bibles published.

J.R. Stoodley

To be clear, we better be darn sure a teaching of our local bishop is in contradiction to higher levels of the Magisterium before rejecting it, though I'm not sure the same obedience is owed to other bishops or to artificial ecclesial structures like Bishops Conferences or the committees involved in the drafting and revising of the NAB.

The introduction by Pope Paul VI does bare some weight but does not say there are no errors in the translation or footnotes.

Michelangelo

Your philosophy is simply the ending of thought. Human reason can attain truth

Human reason can attain a personal truth in coming to a knowledge of the existence of a personal God. But to go beyond the personal, the path of human reason ends at the abyss of faith. Human reason may lead you to the abyss but will not enable you to cross it.

when an opinion clearly contradicts Scripture or the teaching of the Magisterium it is wrong.

What is wrong is EITHER *your* perception of the opinion and/or *your* perception of Scripture/the teaching and/or *your* perception that there's a contradiction and/or *your* perception anything's wrong at all.

J.R. Stoodley

There is one truth. Not two, not six billion, one. An opinion is either true or false. There is no such thing as my truth or your truth. To say anything else is insanity.

Michelangelo

There is one truth... An opinion is either true or false.

No opinion is the truth.

There is no such thing as my truth or your truth

That's why you've got your opinion.

whosebob

Michelangelo wrote: Human reason can attain a personal truth in coming to a knowledge of the existence of a personal God. But to go beyond the personal, the path of human reason ends at the abyss of faith. Human reason may lead you to the abyss but will not enable you to cross it.

Sound like a form of fideism, at least when you say, "human reason may lead you to the abyss [of faith] but will not enable you to cross it," by which I assume you mean to "cross it" would be to have mental certainty that God exists, i.e. God the creator of all things, supremely powerful, the Lord of all, omniscient, omnipresent, impassable, unchangeable, etc. (correct me if I'm wrong about what you mean by "personal God" the existence of which you said could be determined by human reason). Many of the post-Enlightenment Protestant theologians adopted/promoted various forms of fideism, and many Protestants today are fideists even though they don't recognize themselves as such; their authority which serves as the "supreme criterion of certitude" is naturally the Holy Bible, coupled with the witness of other Christians and perhaps the "warm fuzzy tingly graces" that helped them make the leap of faith. In your case, you would seem you to be cynical and/or highly skeptical even about the existence of such an authority on which to base such a leap of faith.

Read that article in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia and you will find that the Catholic Church has consistently condemned fideism both in doctrinal and philopshical terms, as did the Apostle St. Paul (Romans 1:18-23 [RSV]); you may find Wisdom 7 and 13 interesting as well. John Paul II wrote two encyclicals which address such issues: Veritatis Splendor ("The Splendor of Truth") and Fides et Ratio ("Faith and Reason").

And here is a quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 36-38):

"Our holy mother, the Church, holds and teaches that God, the first principle and last end of all things, can be known with certainty from the created world by the natural light of human reason."[11] Without this capacity, man would not be able to welcome God's revelation. Man has this capacity because he is created "in the image of God".[12]

In the historical conditions in which he finds himself, however, man experiences many difficulties in coming to know God by the light of reason alone:

"Though human reason is, strictly speaking, truly capable by its own natural power and light of attaining to a true and certain knowledge of the one personal God, who watches over and controls the world by his providence, and of the natural law written in our hearts by the Creator; yet there are many obstacles which prevent reason from the effective and fruitful use of this inborn faculty. For the truths that concern the relations between God and man wholly transcend the visible order of things, and, if they are translated into human action and influence it, they call for self-surrender and abnegation. The human mind, in its turn, is hampered in the attaining of such truths, not only by the impact of the senses and the imagination, but also by disordered appetites which are the consequences of original sin. So it happens that men in such matters easily persuade themselves that what they would not like to be true is false or at least doubtful."[13]

This is why man stands in need of being enlightened by God's revelation, not only about those things that exceed his understanding, but also "about those religious and moral truths which of themselves are not beyond the grasp of human reason, so that even in the present condition of the human race, they can be known by all men with ease, with firm certainty and with no admixture of error".[14]

11. Vatican Council I, Dei Filius 2:DS 3004; cf. 3026; Vatican Council II, Dei Verbum 6.
12. Cf. Gen 1:27.
13. Pius XII, Humani generis, 561:DS 3875.
14. Pius XII, Humani generis, 561:DS 3876; cf. Dei Filius 2:DS 3005; DV 6; St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I,1,1.


I think you will find that whole first section of the Catechism to be quite interesting, Michelangelo, if you'll take time to work through it.

whosebob

Arrrrgggggghhhh ... those links to the text of the RSV don't work, and I didn't quite give the link I had intended to for the CCC; and I apologize for the all-italics (must not have closed and HTML tag somewhere) ...

Oh well, that's what happens when you try to carry on an extended argument via a combox. Michelango, would you be open to continuing this discussion on CAF?

whosebob

italics closed now. I hope. :-)

whosebob

Yes indeed!
:-D

Michelangelo

I mean exactly what the Catechism says, in the parts you didn't quote:

"Man's faculties make him capable of coming to a knowledge of the existence of a personal God. BUT for man to be able to enter into REAL intimacy with him, God willed both to reveal himself to man, and to give him the grace of being able to welcome this revelation IN FAITH.(so) The proofs of God's existence, however, can predispose one to faith and help one to see that faith is not opposed to reason."

And, "Faith is above reason"

And, "Faith is certain. It is more certain than all human knowledge... the certainty that the divine light gives is greater than that which the light of natural reason gives."

And, from your page on fideism, where it reminds, "The use of reason precedes faith and, WITH THE HELP OF REVELATION AND GRACE, leads to it." By this statement, human reason alone is insufficient for real intimacy with God. Real intimacy requires the help of revelation and grace, in faith above reason, to a certitude that exceeds natural reason.

I think you will find that whole first section of the Catechism to be quite interesting, Michelangelo, if you'll take time to work through it.

Yes, it's quite interesting, as you can see by the quotes I've given you.

J.R. Stoodley

Michelangelo,

Are you for real? Of course Faith is necessary. Your quotes from the Catechism don't back up your position at all. Our point is that there is one objective truth, which the human mind can attain. With the gift of Faith we learn even more. When an idea conflicts with that truth we may be sure it is false.

Some people are wrong, some people think something conflicts with the truth when it does not, perhaps misinterpreting a paradox for an actual contradiction. The point is that they here have not reached their conclusion through reason but through irrational error. Error is rampant in the world and often calls itself reason, but it is not. Reason attains the actual truth, as does faith.

whosebob

Michelangelo,

I didn't selectively quote the CCC to create only an appearance that your statements were incompatible with Catholic teaching. First of all, I believe I misunderstood what you meant by a "personal God." Many people who use that phrase mean something like: "a god of my own understanding, an awareness of a spiritual reality within me or around me; but an understanding and awareness that may differ in the next person and is only valid in subjective terms." I assumed, wrongly as you indicate, that's what you had in mind.

When Catholics, and mostly-orthodox Christians in general, speak of a personal God, they mean a God who is a person, that is an entity which belongs to the highest category of being, even transcending "being-ness."

Now, as to the additional quotes you provided from the CCC, I don't see how they support the idea that one must make a "leap" to cross over the "abyss of faith." In a truly Catholic understanding, an intellectual leap per se isn't necessary -- reason can proceed in grace to make an act of faith and accept the gift of faith; there is not a chasm between the two. Have some people genuinely made such leaps of faith in accepting the Catholic Faith? Sure, many have I don't doubt, and God can work with that. What the Church solemnly teaches though is that it's not necessary for us to have "blind faith" or to perform mental gymnastics that hold our reason and faith in tension, or opposition, or even to squish them together as if they were oil and water. No, faith and reason go together, there is no abyss between them -- read Fides et Ratio.

I would like to appeal again to move this discussion to CAF; I tire of carryin on like this in the combox. But this discussion is really worthwhile and I do appreciate what you have to say and the fact that you're so sincere in thinking through it.

Tim J.

"When Catholics, and mostly-orthodox Christians in general, speak of a personal God, they mean a God who is a person,"

Not only that, but a person Who is other than - and distinct from - ourselves... not just in some internal subjective spiritual sense. In other words, God is an objective Truth - THE objective truth - to which our minds were made to conform.

Yes, He is supremely imminent, present everywhere and at all times, but you can't understand Him in His imminence alone apart from His supreme transcendence.

As the one who creates and sustains the whole universe He is within us and all around us, but He can not be truly apprehended without coming to terms with His personhood - His "otherness". This is part of why public revelation, the "deposit of faith", is so important.

whosebob

Tim J. wrote: As the one who creates and sustains the whole universe He is within us and all around us, but He can not be truly apprehended without coming to terms with His personhood - His "otherness". This is part of why public revelation, the "deposit of faith", is so important.

That's a great and important point, Tim, thanks for pointing it more clearly than I did. IC XC NIKA

John

Vatican Council II-Nostre Aetate:

"Upon the Moslems the church looks with esteem. They adore One God (Is this true????), living and enduring, merciful and all powerful, Maker of heaven and earth and Speaker to Men. They strive to submit wholeheartedly even to His Inscrtable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the Islamic faith is pleased to associate itself (really-it seems all I hear is Muhammed?). Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere him as a prophet (really??-when was the last time I heard or saw a Moslem worship Jesus-cant recall??).....

Do you know that as a consequence of the above that the German bishops have ordered all parish priests to let the Moslems use their parish halls and kindergarden for their worship? Also, Rome itself the Holy See gives an address of greeting to the Moslems at the begining and end of their fasting month Ramadan, calling the blessing of "Allah" upon them. The Mayor of Rome recently gave about 200,000 sq ft of land as a GIFT to the Moslems for the construction of a mosque, the largest outside of the Islamic world! For the laying of the cornerstone, the Holy See sent delegats to assist in this ceremony!

Does one not know that on September 11, 1683 (yes 9/11) with only 15,000 Catholics left to defend Viena from the onslaught of the Turks and coversion of the West to Islam, the Polish came to the rescue with another 75,000 men to fight off 200,000 Turks and more in a miracle the West was saved. Why did these men and woman fight? So that the church in the name of Ecumenism and unity at any price can hand over the keys of Rome and the Vatican without a shot being fired?

Pray for a return to the faith, traditions, and all that the church was before this horrible "renewal"

God bless

Brother Cadfael

John,

Pray for a return to the faith, traditions, and all that the church was before this horrible "renewal"

OK John, I will pray that you return to the faith, traditions and the Church.

God bless

spanking forest

Doesn`t matter what you say, but how...!! But you said it well http://spankingforest.spazioblog.it/

Joe McCarron

I found your first post on inerrancy from google then I searched on the blog directly because I am also interested in this topic. Anyway I am discussing this on the catholic.com forum and would love to hear from others. I think near the end of the thread we finally get to the crux of it.

Here is the link.
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=304295

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